US history Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today  

Robert F Mason
2.4k votes 374 voters 25.2k views 23 items Embed

List Rules Vote up the sick retro slang you’ll be working into everyday conversation.

Every generation develops its own slang. It often sounds alien to the generations who came before, even as these new words and phrases eventually get adopted into mainstream culture and become just the way people talk. 1950s slang is no different. The decade that birthed rock & roll used old words in whole new combinations, to the consternation of parents and old fogies everywhere, giving us terms like "baby," "cool," and "hipster" that mean more or less the same thing now as they did when they were just rockabilly slang.

Modern American English slang owes a lot to retro slang, so it's worth looking back to see if there's anything else we should be using. Here's a list of 1950s expressions that are worth reviving. Most of them began with either hot-rodder or Beat subcultures, but quickly infiltrated teenage language everywhere.

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Cruisin' for a Bruisin'... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Cruisin' for a Bruisin' Looking for trouble.

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Knuckle Sandwich is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Knuckle Sandwich A punch in the face. Has this one ever gone out of style?

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Later, Gator is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Later, Gator Good-bye. So long. Short for "See you later, alligator." The response was "After a while, crocodile."

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Are You Writing a Book? is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Are You Writing a Book? This one means, "you're nosy, you're asking too many questions." This one still gets used sometimes today, but it's worth spreading around again. Especially since books are on the way out.

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Made in the Shade is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Made in the Shade Something that was made in the shade was a guaranteed success, a sure thing.

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Wazoo is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Wazoo The rear end of something or someone. "Talking out your wazoo" would mean "talking out of your butt."

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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch..... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch... A conversational segue borrowed from TV Westerns. It's intended to get a meandering conversation back on track.

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Ankle-Biter is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Ankle-Biter This means "kid," usually a small one. Said by rockabilly fans, it should be obvious that this is a reference to short stature.

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-ville is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
-ville A suffix added to a word, to make it an adjective describing the feel of a place or state of mind. "This place is a total squaresville," for instance.

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Clyde is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Clyde Catch-all derogatory term for a conformist or an idiot, used mostly by Beats. "Hit the road, Clyde" was their "Bye, Felicia."

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Back Seat Bingo is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Back Seat Bingo A description of making out in a car. ("Making out," for those who are terminally uncool, meaning "kissing.")

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Classy Chassis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Classy Chassis A great body, referring to either a person or a car. Used originally by hot-rodders.

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Radioactive is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Radioactive Incredibly popular. This word was (mostly) a good thing in the '50s.

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Cast an Eyeball is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Cast an Eyeball To look upon. "Hey Frankie, cast an eyeball at that joker across the street."

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Cut the Gas! is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Cut the Gas! Shut up. Be quiet. Can it. Zip it... You get the idea.

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Razz My Berries is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Razz My Berries Get me interested or excited.

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Pile Up Zs is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Pile Up Zs To get some sleep.

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Give Me a Bell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Give Me a Bell "Call me." Would be appropriate these days if you set your cell phone ringtone to "old phone" or "vintage." Once upon a time, all phones sounded like that. They also had to be plugged into a wall ...

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Come on, Snake, Let's Ratt... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Come on, Snake, Let's Rattle! A brash, bold invitation. Delivered to the opposite sex when asking for a dance, or to the same sex when demanding a fight. It was complicated.

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Anti-frantic is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Anti-frantic Refers to a person who is calm and poised under pressure. The opposite of panicky, but not quite the same as being cool.

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Earth Pads is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Earth Pads Shoes. This one is a pretty sensible description of what shoes actually do, if you think about it.

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Shoot Low, They're Sending... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Shoot Low, They're Sending Shetlands Another reference to TV Westerns ("Shetlands" are a kind of pony). This one roughly translates to "be careful."

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Bash Ears is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Incredible 1950s Slang We Need to Bring Back Today
Bash Ears To talk, as in, "too much."